PRESCOTT VALLEY — Leaders from the Diocese of Phoenix were singular in their focus Jan. 13: how to work together to help needy families and individuals.
That’s when Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Fr. Gregory Schlarb, the vicar of stewardship, visited St. Germaine Parish to meet with pastors and parish leaders from area parishes for a day of training. The event was held in anticipation of this year’s Charity and Development Appeal, the annual effort to fund charitable and educational outreach in the diocese. The effort kicked off at all parishes in the Phoenix Diocese Feb. 7-8.
Bishop Olmsted quoted Pope Francis saying it is not enough just to welcome lost sheep. “‘No,’ the Pope said, ‘we must go out and find the lost sheep.’ The CDA helps us to do that.”
In his remarks to the group, the bishop related several instances of ways the Diocese of Phoenix has been able to help “lost sheep” including a program for Spanish-speaking couples to learn about Natural Family Planning and the St. Joseph the Worker program that assists the unemployed.
“Through this program, people can get nice clothes to wear on an interview, learn how to conduct themselves in an interview, and write resumes,” Bishop Olmsted said.
The CDA supports over 70 community and charitable organizations that assist individuals in need or in crisis. Some of the outreach includes shelters for abused women, assistance for the elderly and resources for the homeless.
“This is an opportunity to be part of something bigger than you,” said Fr. Schlarb, vicar of stewardship.
Josefina Camou, co-chair of the CDA along with her husband, Fernando, said funds raised in the past helped many who seemed to have no hope due to health problems, addictions, unemployment and other factors. “We work together as one Church to bring God’s love to people in need,” Josefina said. “These funds also help us bring assistance to those who don’t speak English.”
The Charity and Development Appeal supports over 70 community and charitable organizations that assist individuals and families in need or in crisis.
Support the CDA: donations.diocesephoenix.org or (602) 354-2218
And while CDA funds reach out to care for the needy, they also help educate the 31 men studying for the priesthood and the 500-600 couples preparing for marriage. Mike Phelan, director of the Office of Marriage and Respect Life for the Diocese of Phoenix, said the training couples receive is crucial. Not only that, it’s on the cutting edge of marriage prep courses in the country.
“We are preparing people to found a domestic church in a world where they are going to be opposed at almost every turn, in trying to have a home that is holy and prayerful,” Phelan said. “We’re trying to help give people that vision and help them have a really good start.”
In a similar vein, the domestic church formed by Josefina and Fernando Camou is bearing rich fruit this year. The couple’s son, Fernando, is a seminarian preparing for ordination to the priesthood in 2015 and CDA funds helped pay for his studies.
“When my son received a call from the Lord, he was able to respond and money wasn’t an issue that would stop him on his journey,” Josefina said. “He was able to receive a very good education, to be formed and educated to be a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix. He couldn’t have done it without the funds from the CDA.”
Fr. Schlarb said this year’s appeal is a little more ambitious due to the success of last year’s efforts. “We set a goal last year of $8 million and exceeded it by more than a million,” he said. “This year’s goal is $8.3 million, and we are confident we can meet that. These funds go to help our brothers and sisters in need who go unseen.”
Goals for individual parishes were set by the bishop and the diocesan finance council and were based on several factors including past performance.
Donors can make immediate donations or pledge a given amount to be paid over the course of the year. Envelopes for donations and pledges will be available in the book rack in each pew in every parish in the diocese. Funds can be put directly in the parish collections or can be mailed to the diocesan stewardship office. Facebook and Twitter pages will also facilitate giving.
Bishop Olmsted compared parishes and the diocese to a family. “As the family goes, so goes the Church,” he said. “Living our faith must happen in our families. CDA is one way to reach out beyond our own family, to be very committed to our parish and our Church.”
The training session, conducted by Carrie Aranda, director of parish engagement, was hosted by Fr. Dan Vollmer, pastor of St. Germaine in Prescott Valley, and was attended by pastors, priests and staff of St. Germaine, St. Joseph the Worker in Williams, and Sacred Heart in Prescott among others.
— By Mary Dahl, The Catholic Sun.